Magazine article Security Management

Tie Spy

Magazine article Security Management

Tie Spy

Article excerpt

Forget about images of daring international espionage; covert surveillance via miniature cameras is a much more common tool for investigating such mundane matters as workplace malingering and insurance fraud. At Al Rossy Investigations, Inc., in Cedar Knolls, New Jersey, about two-thirds of the civil and criminal caseload requires covert surveillance.

Since Rossy Investigations opened a decade ago, the agency has equipped many sites with hidden cameras but found that it was not always possible to install a camera in advance or at a certain location. So Al Rossy, president of the firm, began creating his own line of "spywear," miniature cameras placed in articles of clothing and other portable items to capture scenes and perspectives he could not have gotten otherwise.

In one case, his client was trying to capture evidence of drug distribution in the health club of a hotel. To help the operative blend into the environment, Rossy equipped a Walkman-type radio with a camera, which not only caught images of drug distribution but also showed management that employees were shirking duties and working out while on the clock.

Making custom equipment was too time consuming, however, and Rossy began looking around for a company that could provide the completed miniature camera and decoy already assembled. But finding the right product for the right price proved to be a challenge.

Rossy tried numerous firms. Some of the products did not work as expected. Several businesses furnished poor or outdated equipment. Others did not test the hardware on location or failed to provide support. One test of a camera hidden in a necktie, for example, yielded useless video. Undercover operatives cannot afford failed attempts, notes Rossy, because they may not get a second chance.

In other cases, prices were too high. Rossy was interested in a company from which he could lease equipment for any of his twenty-two investigators when needed, rather than purchasing a large inventory outright. He could then pass along the incremental rental costs. But, says Rossy, clients have limited budgets, too, and if his firm passes along high rental costs to first-time clients, they might not come back.

In late 1994, Rossy discovered Q Enterprises, a small operation based in northern New Jersey that custom-builds covert surveillance devices, placing cameras in such objects as baseball caps, ties, briefcases, eyeglasses, and wrist-watches. …

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